Buying beach front property – Mistake

Buying property on the coast

I live on a semi-tropical island off the coast of Florida in St. Augustine. The island is called Anastasia island. It is tucked safely away in the Florida’s Northeast corner. It is an area that does not get hurricanes, nor major tropical storms. St. Augustine, the oldest city in North America has received one major storm in its history. In contrast NYC has had four.

beach front property
Ocean front where I live

Therefore, you would think it would be a peaceful little island near this 450 year old town, it would be a safe bet to buy real estate on the ocean. Except for one thing. One little thing makes almost all beach real estate a deal breaker.  It is windy. Not the Wizard of Oz type wind, but just gusty.

My argument is it is not a deal breaker because of fear of home destruction or anything like that, rather it is more about lifestyle. Day-to-day lifestyle is more important than any abstract real estate valuation mind you. In theory they are should somehow correlate, but they do not. The unspoken nuisances no one talks about is wind. It makes life on the beach a bitch.

ocean front real estate
I love walking along the beach in the morning

My whole family lives on the coast

My brother and folks live in Jupiter in south Florida. They literally have beach front properties.  My family grew up not on the coast but near. They make the same comment, it is windy.

If you are considering beach front property I highly recommend you think again. The reason is the wind gets so strong that you can not enjoy your back yard.  Sure the ocean view is nice, however, that gets old fast. It would be better to be off the beach and have some protection of trees.  Then you could have lawn chairs and sit in the back. One a daily basis you want to relax in your back yard and read a book, not close yourself in some protected contract to shield from the wind.

Mr. Nautical does not recommend water front real estate

My brother who is Mr. Nautical and had a boat built from scratch based on historical designs sails up and down the eat coast and has a house on Cape cod and south Florida has said the same things. Do not buy beach front real estate. It is too windy to enjoy normal everyday life. He is looking to sell his mistake and move a bit inland. Even a 1/4 mile inland would be enough.

Better is to buy somewhere back from the water, and ride your bike to the beach.

Beach front properties and value

I have always thought beach front property is over priced disproportional for what it is worth.  Now more than ever I see  scores of empty units and homes in Florida now for good reason. They were over-valued and still are.

Beach front homes sell for over a million dollars where I live. Yet in the county not far away,  homes that have some land and reasonable size sell for 150,000 dollars. These are nice homes. People have gardens and play areas for their kids and drive to the beach. You really do not need to pay 1.5 million for a house because it is on the beach.

Some lady I know is selling her home for 1/2 million. I would personally pay 50,000 for it. It has been beaten down by the wind. I simply would not like to live there. Price is subjective. Do not simply take 15% of asking price, but ask yourself, what would you personally pay for this plot of land?

Beaches disappear

My brothers beach has disappeared. I think the Army corps of engineers will eventually rebuild it, or though some controversal funding. But just because you buy some notice water from property does not mean anything. In a few years the water might wash the beach away or be right up on your home or leave you with jagged rocks to trip over. Real estate agents love to sell property on the water but do not be sold.

Now my family has lake front property in New England. This is much more reasonable because it is not the ocean.

home on the ocean
Just because I love the beach does not mean I have to live right on it

Traffic on the ocean and other considerations

The Entire coastline is often a tourist mecca. noisy bikers and drivers not looking where they are going driving up and down. Now I have no regrets about living on an Island but I am glad I am not right up on the ocean but a little further back were we can enjoy a little peace. We were living in Europe at the time and I did extensive research on the web for about six months for the optimal place to live. The best place is near but not on the ocean.

P&C insurance on beach front property

I worked for many years one of the larger P&C insurance companies in Boston. They charge a fortune for the VIP life of ocean front property. You have to factor in inflated insurance costs because of property and casualty home insurance. You have to factor in accelerated depreciation from the air eroding your home and things. Our bikes are new yet covered with rust because of the air. Beach properties are nothing but and expense and in this market a sinking asset.

Even if I was made out of money, which I am not I would not buy it unless I was trying to impress. I am not trying to impress. Life should be about lifestyle on a day-to-day basis and it would be a hard argument to tell me the windy stormy beach is worth the price.

When was beach front property worth it?

Here is an example. In Stonington, CT after WWII many Portuguese fishermen bought homes at cheap prices. In fact, the Portuguese in WASP blue blood New England were a bit of an odd lot. They were not accepted and people did not want to live around them. I grew up in New England and I remember this.

Then something happened. These poor fishermen got rich as the gold coast of NYC expand further out into CT and somewhere between Boston and NYC rich Yankees wanted a home by the sea. Homes bought for under 10,000 were selling for several million dollars. The opportunity cost of the land became too high to use as a fishing community. This was a specific time in this nations development. It was also a premium for a certain generation, but not as much for todays America. This type of opportunity does not exist today. If anything we are in a long-term reverse trend. Again I personally would recommend not buying beach front property, there are better values out there. There are better ideas for appreciation.

Thank you for reading such a long post on buying ocean front property, if you have any questions or comments let me know.

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9 responses to “Buying beach front property – Mistake”

  1. Adam

    “My brother and folks live in Jupiter in south Florida”.
    Thats a very nice place Mark.

    Totally agree, I live very close to the beach but facing opposite from the ocean. I chose Canal Front Property “no wind”.

    One thing to also know A) There are two to every places B) its important to know where the predominant wins come from.

    But in every island there is a more calm and tranquil side.
    Same can be true in part of Florida. East,West.

    The ocean is a destructor of every thing. The wind and salt air, the sand in your sliding doors the rust etc.

    The reason its expensive is that Its a dream for anyone living in snow land to some day and be able to live by the beach.$$$$
    Real-estate agents Know this game.

    For our heath however when the ocean is calm I love to swim and walk. Its a healthy life if you just don’t and roast.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Well we are really across the street from the beach and it is fine. You do have a good point. A beach house has two sides, and it depends how the house is laid out. I basically moved the Island for improved health reason and can attest to the fact that living on the beach makes you feel better.

      I hope next year we will buy a home.

      I think we will be on the Island but off the beach and again it is according to what you can afford. If price is no limit that you can have a nice protected yard on one side and the beach on the other.

  2. Adam

    There are two to every places = There are sides two to every places

  3. Diane Melin

    I have a friend who bought a house by the ocean. She says she moved there for health reasons. Is this true? I live in the Desert, rarely sick and have loads of hiking trails that are vigorous, or just flat out beautiful with Pines and mountain ranges.

    I love to travel to the ocean now and then, but not often because of the crowds.
    I’m an hour ~ to the Pacific Ocean in So. CA.

    I really enjoyed the article because it’s hard to find the truth.

    1. Mark Biernat

      Any location in nature is good, for example the Ocean has minerals good for your health, even the air is good for your thyroid or like the desert the air I have less allergies. I feel like by the Ocean or the desert or forest you detox in different ways. A pine forest is very uplifting and builds confidence because of the aromatherapy aspect, the desert philosophical because of the purity and clarity, you would not find in a city. I live in a forest near the Ocean in Saint Augustine and in the state park the beach is always empty.

      1. Diane Melin

        Thank you for your reply. It sounds like you have the best of all worlds. I lived in Orlando long, long ago. I think Florida is the next best thing to Hawaii. Thanks for your insights on ocean front real estate; it was nice to know I didn’t need to drool and agonize to have a second home at the beach (second home so I could run for cover to the main fort when El Nino strikes).

  4. Reginald

    Hello,I am a Canadian living in the Philippines.

    I have bought oceanfront property and ice cream shop though my gf here.
    Now looking for investor partner for property and business here.
    Property located beside a small resort and has large reef in front the property.
    Nearby is hot springs,island hopping beautiful beaches,ferry terminal that takes you other major islands Philippines,volcanoes,ect…

    Cost of living much cheaper this region then Manila,nearby is town of 80,000 as well other smaller towns.

    I have few ideas can discuss for business if interested.
    Contact me if interested my skype is backbaylobster

  5. You mention to look for property that fits your lifestyle. If you are looking to be in the middle of the fun and want to be involved, look for the busier beaches. If you are looking for a more laid back, relaxed beach, look for areas that may not be as desired. I will have to keep this in mind if I ever find myself in this situation.

  6. ammes connally

    I bought a home on the beach in Sanibel . For a while it was good ( I enjoyed it) bit a few storms later I just couldn’t deal with the worry every time. I also could deal with people walking in front of my house always !! Load rude touristy ( dogs all the time) bought more luxurious private home a street back very happy )

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